Family Therapy Model Successful in Organizational Intervention

Therapy techniques that focus on family dynamics and structure can successfully be applied by organizations to increase employee satisfaction and alter employee attitudes.

Written by: Georgia Godfrey

Therapy techniques that focus on family dynamics and structure can successfully be applied by organizations to increase employee satisfaction and alter employee attitudes, a team of Texas Tech University researchers has found.

Texas Tech Marriage and Family Therapy faculty, working with colleagues from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, identified methods of family systems-based therapy that can be used throughout organizational intervention programs.

Researchers focused on family-based theories of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, status quo and interactive feedback as effective methods in treating organizational problems. The findings were published earlier this year in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.

"This new research based on family systems methods opens a new window of opportunity in organizational intervention," said Linda Hoover, dean of the College of Human Sciences at Texas Tech. "Therapists participating in organizational intervention programs can use these new methods to help increase professional environments and productivity."

These intervention methods view the family as a whole unit and evaluate problems based on organizational structure, boundary ambiguity, unclear rules, hierarchy and the exercise of power – all of which also occur throughout professional organizations. The group hypothesized that the difficult problems existing within organizations were caused not only by individuals but also by relational and systemic processes.

Data was collected while the group worked with the Texas Tech Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The team found these methods as an effective way of increasing employee satisfaction and altering employee attitudes. The most impact occurred when not just the individual was considered but also the individual’s relationships to others.

Organizational intervention is one of the many services that has historically been provided by the Texas Tech Employee Assistance Program to administrators on the university campus and to other business and governmental entities in the community. The model that resulted from these studies provides both the general guidelines and specific interventions for ongoing organizational consultations, both within the Lubbock community and across the country.

The team included Sterling T. Shumway, Thomas G. Kimball, Alan W. Korinek and Rudy Arredondo.

The Marriage and Family Therapy Program provides clinical and academic training grounded in systems theory to students who will function as marriage and family therapists at the highest level of clinical competence. As part of the College of Human Sciences, this program contributes to the field of marriage and family therapy through research, teaching and other activities as well as helping clients.

CONTACT: Georgia Godfrey, coordinator for college development and external relations, College of Human Sciences, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-3263, or georgia.godfrey@ttu.edu.